Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
It has not been the best of weeks for top-of-the-table Manchester City and things might get worse for the Champions-elect at Wembley this weekend given they meet a Spurs side who are looking to cement their Champions League spot for next season.
The opening goal is normally very important in any game but perhaps less so at St Mary’s this weekend, given both sides failed to hang on to a lead last weekend. Indeed Southampton have now failed to win any of the last six PL games in which they have opened the scoring!
The Saints badly need the points as they look to maintain their PL status and if there is to be a winner at St Mary’s I feel it will be the hosts, despite having lost their last four league games against Chelsea.
Tip: Southampton Double Chance (draw or win) at 10/11
Burnley are looking to win five consecutive top-flight games for the first time since November 1968 and Sean Dyche must be a leading candidate for LMA Manager of the Year irrespective of the outstanding claims of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
Only Mo Salah (21) has scored in more PL games than Jamie Vardy (15) so far this season and I fancy the Foxes will pick up a hard-earned point at Turf Moor.
Tip: Game to finish in a draw at 11/5
Palace have not had much luck at Selhurst Park in recent months but that might change this weekend in their “derby” clash with Brighton.
Brighton have failed to score in five of their last seven away PL games and I think they will struggle to cope with the pace and flair of Wilfried Zaha. You would have got big odds at the start of the season had you backed Luka Milovejic (10) to be top PL scorer for the Eagles this term and it is about time that Christian Benteke stepped up to the plate for Roy Hodgson’s side.
Tip: Palace to win at 20/21
There have been 32 goals in the last seven league games between the sides and I expect to see another entertaining clash in West Yorkshire.
The Hornets have only picked up one point from their last nine PL away games and coach Javi Gracia is yet to see his side score a goal away from Vicarage Road in four previous games. A hard game to call but I would be surprised if we did not see goals at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Tip: Both teams to score at 17/20
I was disappointed with Everton, despite picking up a point, against Liverpool in last weekend’s Merseyside Derby when they were second best for much of the game before suddenly waking up in the last fifteen minutes to the fact that the Reds were there for the taking.
It might be a long time before they a have a similar opportunity to break their Derby hoodoo such is the respective strength of the two clubs at present.
Carlos Carvalhal has won seven of his nine home matches since taking over at the Liberty Stadium and both defeats have come at the hands of Spurs. I think the Swans might edge a low-scoring contest.
Tip: Swansea to win at 31/20
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 18 home PL games and when they take the field at Anfield on Saturday evening (5.30 ko) against Bournemouth we will just know the winner of the 2018 Grand National – starts fifteen minute earlier – but more importantly we’ll also who the Reds will meet in the semi-final of the Champions League.
The Cherries have only won at Stamford Bridge against the “Big Six” sides on the road in the history of the PL and I cannot see past another home win for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Mo Salah has scored in 21 PL games so far this season and is one goal from becoming just the eighth player in the history of the competition to score 30 league goals in a season. Seventeen of those goals have come at Anfield but his midweek goal at the Etihad again showed just what a great player he is.
Tip: Liverpool to win to nil at 11/8
Manchester City have played two great halves of football against United and Liverpool this week but they were not able to sustain that brilliance over 90 minutes and it has to go down as a disappointing week for the club.
That should not detract, however, from a magnificent season for the team and they will be fitting champions – even if the champagne is currently on ice.
Next up Tottenham – the only Premier League team that are unbeaten in 2018 👀 pic.twitter.com/i0IEADS06r
— ODDSbible (@ODDSbible) April 10, 2018
Spurs have won their last two home league games against City and the visitors would not be human if they did not feel a little sorry for themselves.
As an England supporter, I am concerned that England’s first-choice defender John Stones did not even make the bench for either of the games this week and Gareth Southgate must be a little worried about his lack of regular playing time.
These two sides can only play one way and that is to attack, but I feel the hosts will keep the points in the capital.
Tip: Spurs to win and both teams to score at 29/10
Arsenal had played and won five successive home games prior to their trip to Moscow on Thursday for the second leg of their quarterfinal Europa League tie.
Newcastle will be well aware that they have lost their last 10 PL games against the Gunners but I think they will buck that trend at St James’s Park on Sunday.
United have won their last three league games while the Gunners have actually lost their last four PL games on the road. Yes – they have not played an away league game since their 2-1 defeat at Brighton at the beginning of March!
Arsenal have only won thirteen of their 54 points so far this season on their travels and if there is to be a winner on Sunday, I expect United will edge it.
Tip: Newcastle draw no bet at 31/20
United have kept a league-high 16 clean sheets in the league so far this season and with a trip to Bournemouth to come on Wednesday I expect to see a no-frills success from Jose Mourinho’s side whose confidence must be sky-high after their Etihad derby win.
The Baggies have not won in their last 15 away league games while United have won their last five league games. This looks a banker home win.
Tip: United to win and under 2.5 goals at 2/1
You have to go back to December 2016 for the last time West Ham gained back-to-back home wins and I feel the Potters might take a vital point in the capital on Monday night.
Stoke are fighting for the PL lives but do have a good record at West Ham where they are unbeaten in their last five league visits.
Tip: Game to finish 1-1 at 6/1
Weekend treble: Palace, Swansea and Liverpool at 11/2 11/2